At Deaf Action, we are busy making preparations for our AGM in November, so it feels like a great time to share some exciting news about our plans for our headquarters in Edinburgh.
A long history on Albany Street
Albany Street has been our home since 1889. The building is more than a place of business, it is Scotland’s last remaining deaf centre and is of rich historical significance to the deaf community. Many of the people we support have a lifelong relationship with our building, starting in childhood. A number of our staff share this bond and feel they have ‘grown up’ in the deaf centre. One of our colleagues was even married in the Albany Church which forms part of our centre, and although not currently used for religious services, the church was one of the first in the world specifically for deaf congregations and remains an important community space.
Over the past year, we have been working with conservation architects Simpson & Brown to develop a plan to bring the centre back to its best, and to create a more deaf-friendly space. As part of this work, we have identified a range of external repair issues including window frames, roof repairs and stonework repairs. This November, work will begin to carry out these repairs, ensuring the building remains wind and watertight, with a well maintained and inviting façade. The repairs will also improve the energy efficiency of the building and support our efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. The work will take around 4 months to complete and will be concluded by March 2022. Whilst there will be scaffolding erected at the front and rear of the building, we don’t expect the work to interfere with our use of the centre, and we will remain open as usual.
The total cost of the restoration will be in the region of £350,000. Two-thirds of this cost will be met by our funders, Edinburgh World Heritage and Heritage Lottery. In order to raise the balance, we have made a range of grant applications and we expect some more funding decisions before the end of this year.
Our future plans
These repairs are just the beginning. In recent years, we have witnessed a growing need to preserve deaf heritage and culture. A restored deaf centre is central to achieving this.
We are committed to preserving the heritage of our historic building, but we also recognise that the centre could better meet the needs of deaf people today. We are in the process of recruiting a Heritage Officer who will lead on a consultation to help us better understand what improvements our community would like to see. We plan to incorporate the learning from this work into the next phase of the project.
Our centre makes a real difference to the lives of deaf people. Improving the condition and facilities available will help ensure we remain here for many years to come.